This New Whiskey Is Distilled from Sierra Nevada Beer

"Ruthless" is a collaboration between St. George Spirits and Sierra Nevada Brewing that's been eight years in the making.

In a very basic sense, whiskey is distilled beer. In fact, the fermented mash slated for distillation is sometimes called "distiller's beer" — not that you'd want to drink it. But whiskey can be produced from finished beer. California's Charbay Distillery has famously been making whiskey from beer for over two decades.

Alas, whiskey made from otherwise drinkable beer is still relatively rare: Producing commercial beer only to distill it down is an additional time-consuming step and added expense. But it does happen. And today, one of the biggest names in craft brewing has announced the release of the first whiskey ever made from their beer: Sierra Nevada Brewing and nearby St. George Spirits have created Ruthless, a limited-edition whiskey distilled from Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye IPA.

A bottle of Ruthless Whiskey made from Sierra Nevada beer

Whiskey requires a bit of aging, and this project has been in the works for quite some time: The Ruthless Rye IPA was distilled back in 2013. But the brands have actually been collaborating since 1997 with Sierra Nevada brewing the distiller's beer St. George uses to produce their whisky. To hammer home the depth of this partnership, the companies explain that Ruthless not only blended together whiskey from seven Ruthless Rye IPA casks, but also contains a touch of the first-ever barrel of St. George Single Malt Whiskey that Sierra Nevada helped create.

"I have been a fan of St. George's products for many years and I think they're some of the most talented and creative distillers in the world," Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada, said in the announcement. "St. George's friendship has been very meaningful over the years, and I am thrilled that we were able to work together to craft such a special and unique product."

The Ruthless Whiskey
Courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and St. George Spirits

Ruthless will officially launch this Saturday, December 18 exclusively at the St. George Spirits Distillery in Alameda, California. A limited number of bottles will be available for $75 each with a two-bottles-per-person limit.

If you are able to get your hands on one, the brands say to expect "chocolate, turmeric, pistachio, fruit punch and coconut notes on the nose," while the flavors include "marmalade, coconut, roasted pineapple, ginger, white pepper and even Tootsie Roll notes."

"This is a spirit that has been in barrel for eight years — older than many craft distilleries," Dave Smith, St. George's head distiller and blender, explained. "At St. George, we've always looked to propel the art of distillation in all categories and have consistently found ourselves inspired by the creativity and excellence of our friends at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Ruthless Rye IPA has long been one of our team's favorite beers and now our collaborative efforts are finally ready to share with our incredible fans."

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